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Researchers stored 17th-century foodstuffs aboard the 19th-century tall ship Elissa as part of an investigation into how well food preservation worked during the age of discovery. Photo by age fotostock/Alamy Stock Photo

 

An unprecedented archaeology experiment is putting historical shipboard food and drink to the test.

Original article:

Hakaimagazine.com

by Jeremy Hsu

In 1619, a hurricane sank the English merchant ship Warwick in Bermuda’s Castle Harbor. The struggling settlers of Jamestown, Virginia, were desperately awaiting the shipload of fresh supplies, and keenly felt the loss. Almost 400 years later, artifacts from the wreck are helping archaeologist Grace Tsai uncover if unrefrigerated food and drink remained edible and nutritious during long sea voyages.

Since 2012, Tsai, a doctoral candidate in nautical archaeology at Texas A&M University, has been studying archaeological records of provisions from three different shipwrecks from the 16th and 17th centuries and analyzing shipboard diets based on modern nutritional guidelines.

Now, Tsai and her colleagues are going one step further: for two months, they stored period-accurate provisions aboard the closest thing to the Warwick they could find—the 19th-century tall ship Elissa, docked in Galveston, Texas.

“The whole premise is to see how things age aboard ships,” Tsai says. Researchers, including her, have typically studied how to prepare food based on historical recipes, “but nobody has been testing how well they lasted on a transatlantic voyage.”

The two-month shipboard study took place from August to October 2017, and included its own hurricane scare, when Harvey swept through just a week into the experiment.

Now, Tsai and her colleagues are back in the lab, analyzing the provisions’ surviving nutritional value and investigating the microbes that grew on them. Chemical analyses could even reveal any remaining—or acquired—flavors.

Yet before they could get to this point, Tsai and her team had to make all the foodstuffs that would have sustained a 17th-century English sailor, such as salted meats, peas, oatmeal, tough ship biscuits, beer, wine, and a barrel of natural spring water. The project also included a variety of heirloom rice, which was more common in the diets of Spanish or Portuguese sailors.

To better understand the salted meats, Tsai traveled to Bermuda to study animal bones recovered from the Warwick’s wreck. Her examination of butcher marks on cattle bones helped her identify the best size to cut beef to enable preservation. The team also imported sea salt from Guérande, France, a region that has been producing salt for more than 1,000 years, which remains a chefs’ favorite.

Previously, scientists have tried to re-create food and drink from various historical periods. But independent experts agree that this project is an unprecedented experiment in maritime archaeology.

“[The experiment] would certainly be the closest we could come to replicating the stowage conditions of a sailing ship in that environment,” says Chuck Meide, director of the St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program in Florida.

James Delgado, a maritime archaeologist and senior vice president at SEARCH, an independent archaeological consultancy in Florida, agrees. “While we’ve studied food waste and food based on archaeological remains, this is the first time, as far as I know, that someone has done experimental archaeology with shipboard provisions from that period.”

After their stint in the Elissa’s hold, many of the provisions still seem edible. For safety reasons, nobody will actually be tasting the experimental results, but the baked ship biscuits are in the best shape by far, a testament to their legendary hardiness. The salted beef, however, has taken on a pinkish center resembling prosciutto. It has a pungent smell, says Tsai, though it isn’t rotten.

A big exception is the natural spring water, which has turned cloudy with greenish bits and “smelled pretty disgusting,” Tsai says. Sailors may have preferred quenching their thirst with beer and wine, which remained more palatable. Still, a surprising amount of lingering yeast fermentation and carbonation caused the beer barrel to leak and grow mold.

Yet the biggest surprise came from the diversity of microbes found in some of the food. Early genomic sequencing analyses, mostly from the salted beef, suggest that many of the bacteria are neither illness-causing pathogens nor beneficial probiotics—most seem to be relatively neutral. The unexpected microbial bounty, however, has forced the researchers to expand their genomic sequencing efforts.

Even though no one is eating the food and drink stored aboard the Elissa, the team is organizing a fundraising event aboard the ship later this month to sample beer based on the historical recipe.

The event illustrates the project’s benefits beyond the research findings by getting more people interested in history and archaeology, says Meide. “There is something compelling about literally re-creating the past in order to learn about it.”

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The 4,000-year-old complex may have been used to house important officials visiting from the royal capital in Memphis.

Original Article :

ibtimes.co.uk

The excavation site at Tell Edfu (with the temple of Horus and the modern town of Edfu in the background)G Marouard/University of Chicago

The excavation site at Tell Edfu (with the temple of Horus and the modern town of Edfu in the background)G Marouard/University of Chicago

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered two large buildings that they believe may have been the earliest major structures in the Tel Edfu region. Led by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, researchers found the structures while engaged in a long-term dig at the site located on the west bank of the Nile River.

Located 400 miles south of Cairo, the well-preserved buildings date back around 2400-2350 BCE in the late Fifth Dynasty of Egypt and indicate a turning point in the pharaoh’s interest in developing provincial regions outside of the major cities.

The large complex may have been used to accommodate important officials from the capital Memphis, who visited the area to oversee mining of precious metals and gems from the surrounding deserts. Archaeologists have been able to identify that parts of the structure were used for making beer and bread as well as for smelting copper.

“It’s a wonderful find because we have so little information about this era of settlement in the southern provinces,” Nadine Moeller, associate professor of Egyptian archaeology, who leads the excavation together with Oriental Institute research associate Gregory Marouard, said. “We don’t know any such similar complex for the Old Kingdom.”

The Oriental Institute has been conducting excavations at Tel Edfu for the past 16 years, and late last year discovered two other mud structures that may have been used as an administrative complex. The buildings which were discovered in December 2017 were surrounded by open courtyards and workshops. The complex itself had storage spaces where over 200 broken clay sealings used to mark boxes, containers and letters were discovered.

“It’s just about this time that the Egyptian royalty, until then focused on the northern area directly around the capital Memphis, began to expand its reach after a period of contraction during the fourth and much of the fifth dynasties,” Moeller said. “This is a first sign that the ancient city of Edfu was evolving into an important departure point for large expeditions leaving for the Eastern desert regions, and possibly the Red Sea shore, located about 125 miles to the east.”

Researchers believe the buildings may also have had religious or cult ties, given their proximity to a temple 20 yards away.

While archaeologists continue to identify and study the urban planning of the region, they are puzzled by the level of preservation of the structures. Unlike most other sites that were raided for their bricks, the eight-foot thick walls of this complex were never recycled. Additionally, given the scarcity of wood in Egypt, the entrance door was also left intact.

Another subject of interest is the architectural style used. The largest building in the area has outer façades with a very distinct slope, a style that was not popular in ancient Egypt.

“It’s very well-constructed and so the slope is certainly intentional, which highlights the architectural peculiarity of this monument,” Marouard said. “We don’t know of any other structure within an urban context in Egypt that looks like this.”

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A global team of researchers has published the first-ever Wild Emmer wheat genome sequence in Science magazine. Wild Emmer wheat is the original form of nearly all the domesticated wheat in the world, including durum (pasta) and bread wheat. Wild emmer is too low-yielding to be of use to farmers today, but it contains many attractive characteristics that are being used by plant breeders to improve wheat.

Source: Wheat genome sequencing provides ‘time tunnel’ — boosting future food production & safety

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I can’t quite believe it but it’s been 7 wears since I first signed up with WordPress and started this blog.

Soon I’ll have a link set up and post to my Facebook page as well.

Thanks to all my followers and anyone and everyone who has found something interesting and useful on my site.

Joanna Linsley-Poe

August 28, 2016

Anniversary was actually yesterday the 27 th.

 

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zagrosmountains

 

Original Article:

cbsnews.com

 

BERLIN – Scientists say a previously unknown group of Stone Age farmers may have introduced agriculture to South Asia, challenging earlier theories that attributed the spread of farming to a different population.

Previous research held that a single group of hunter-gatherers developed agriculture in the Middle East some 10,000 years ago and then migrated to Europe, Asia and Africa, where they gradually replaced or mixed with the local population.

But scientists who analyzed ancient human remains found in the Zagros mountains of present-day Iran say they belonged to a completely separate people who appear to have taken up farming around the same time as their cousins further west in Anatolia, now Turkey.

“There was this idea that there’d been one group of genius inventors who developed agriculture,” said Joachim Burger, one of the authors of the study published online Thursday in the journal Science. “Now we can see there were genetically diverse groups.”

Scientists from Europe, the United States and Iran who examined the DNA of 9,000 to 10,000-year-old bone fragments discovered in a cave near Eslamabad, 600 kilometers (370 miles) southwest of the Iranian capital of Tehran, found they belonged to a man with black hair, brown eyes and dark skin.

Intriguingly, the man’s diet included cereals, a sign that he had learned how to cultivate crops, said Fereidoun Biglari of National Museum of Iran, who was also involved in the study.

Along with three other ancient genomes from the Zagros mountains, researchers were able to piece together a picture of a population whose closest modern relatives can be found in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and among members of Iran’s Zoroastrian religious community, said Biglari.

The Zagros people had very different genes than modern Europeans or their crop-planting ancestors in western Anatolia and Greece, said Burger, an anthropologist and population geneticist at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

He said the study’s authors calculated that the two populations likely split at least 50,000 years ago, shortly after humans first ventured out of Africa.

Burger said even though the two ancient farming populations didn’t mix, it’s probable that they knew of – and even learned from – each other, given that the development of agriculture is highly complex and therefore unlikely to have spontaneously occurred twice around the same time.

“You have to build houses, clear forests, cultivate several plants and ensure a plentiful supply of water. You also have to domesticate several animals, be able to grind flour, bake bread,” said Burger. “This is a huge process that takes several thousand years.”

Burger said the findings could help shed light on important developments in human history that have been neglected due to researchers’ long habit of focusing on ancient migratory movements into Europe.

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IMG_1232Original article

ca.finance.yahoo.com

Beer. It’s not the most ideal payment to take home in exchange for a day’s work: it might spill, it could get warm, it might get polluted with dirt, dust and whatever insects are drawn to the sweet nectar while on the road, or you might not make it home at all.
But employers in the ancient Mesopotamian city of Uruk, located in modern-day Iraq, certainly knew how to treat their workers to a good time.

A roughly 5,000-year-old cuneiform stone tablet, in possession of the British Museum in London, shows how workers were paid their daily rations in liquid gold.
According to the New Scientist the tablet is the world’s oldest paycheck.
“On one tablet excavated from (Uruk) we can see a human head eating from a bowl, meaning ‘ration,’ and a conical vessel, meaning ‘beer,’” writes the New Scientist’s Alison George.
“Scattered around are scratches recording the amount of beer for a particular worker.”
The artifact’s entry on the British Museum’s page on Google Arts & Culture indicates that the tablet was made around 3100 to 3000 BC.

It adds that beer was the most popular beverage in Mesopotamia because it was “safer” and “maybe tastier than water.” (Writer’s note: there’s no debate about the second part.)
But this isn’t the only case in history of workers receiving beer for their daily responsibilities. In ancient Egypt, workers who undertook the grueling task of building the received a “daily ration of four to five liters.”

There are also records of poet and the “Father of English literature” Geoffrey Chaucher receiving a yearly salary of 252 gallons of wine from Richard II.
And this practice isn’t exclusive to ancient history. There is a trend of tech companies keeping refrigerators stocked with cold brews and letting them imbibe at the office.
So drink up, fellow proletariats.
By Michael Shulman | Insight – Tue, 28 Jun, 2016 12:55 PM EDT

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Food Quotes

I’ve been away house hunting in New Mexico where I am happy to say we will be moving this fall.
I have a lot of packing to do and I might add posts to catch up on.
First, my husband in trolling the internet found these wonderful food quotes for me.
I thought you might like them.
JLP.

Food history is as important as a baroque church. Governments should recognize cultural heritage and protect traditional foods. A cheese is as worthy of preserving as a sixteenth-century building.” By Carlo Petrini

“A soup like this is not the work of one man. It is the result of a constantly refined tradition. There are nearly a thousand years of history in this soup.” Willa Cather, ‘Death Comes for the Archbishop’ (1927)

“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is strength, in water there is bacteria.” -David Auerbach
“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” -Harriet van Horne
“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” – Jonathan Swift

Cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality.
Clifton Fadiman (1904-1999) American editor and writer.

Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat.
Marcus Tulius Cicero (106-43 BC) Writer, politician and great roman orator.

Abstain from beans.
Plutarch (46-120) Greek essayist, and biographer.
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz

J.R.R. Tolkien
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
― Hippocrates

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
― Laurie Colwin

“All sorrows are less with bread. ”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

“Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.”
― Alice May Brock

“The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star.”
― Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste: Or, Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy
“Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
“The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.

–The Fruit Hunters”
― Thomas Jefferson, The Quotable Jefferson

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”
― James Beard

“A writing cook and a cooking writer must be bold at the desk as well as the stove.”
― Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher

“Perhaps this war will make it simpler for us to go back to some of the old ways we knew before we came over to this land and made the Big Money. Perhaps, even, we will remember how to make good bread again.

It does not cost much. It is pleasant: one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with peace, and the house filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells. But it takes a lot of time. If you can find that, the rest is easy. And if you cannot rightly find it, make it, for probably there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel, that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”
― Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf

“Indigenous foods die when no one learns to cook them.”
― Jean Zimmerman, Made from Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth

A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do. ~P.J. O’Rourke

Proust had his madeleines; I am devastated by the scent of yeast bread rising. ~Bert Greene

Bread deals with living things, with giving life, with growth, with the seed, the grain that nurtures. It is not coincidence that we say bread is the staff of life. ~Lionel Poilane
Fish, to taste right, must swim three times — in water, in butter, and in wine. ~Polish Proverb
Worries go down better with soup. ~Jewish Proverb

Provided it be well and truly made there is really for the confirmed turophile no such thing as a bad cheese. A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may be oversophisticated. Yet it remains cheese, milk’s leap toward immortality. ~Clifton Fadiman, “The Cheese Stands Alone,” Any Number Can Play, 1957

This is the kind of plant that endears itself to a teenage boy. These weren’t vegetables, they were weapons! And it was legal to grow them. ~James Gorman, about hot peppers (habaneros), “A Perk of Our Evolution: Pleasure in Pain of Chilies,” New York Times, September 20, 2010

There were green infernos and green terrors, yellow jackets and yellow furies, red torrids and red frenzies. ~James Street (1903–1954), “The Grains of Paradise”

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